The Use and Abuse of John Calvin in Richard Hooker's Defence of the English Church
At times Richard Hooker (1554-1600), as an apologist for the Church of England,
has been treated as “on the Calvinist side”, at others as an “anti-Calvinist”. In fact, Hooker and
his Church were dependent on John Calvin in some ways and independent in others. Hooker
used recognized sources to paint a picture of Calvin and his reforms in Geneva that would
negatively characterize the proposals and behaviour of those he opposed in the Church of
England, and yet he adopted Calvinist positions on several topics. A judicious treatment of
Hooker’s attitude to John Calvin requires careful reading, and an understanding of the polemical
use of the portrait of Calvin. Calvin was indeed grave and learned, but he was human and,
as an authority, inferior to the Church Fathers, who were formally recognized as authorities in
the Church of England.
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